Kotor, Montenegro: A Travel Guide To Montenegro's Most Popular Town
Updated: Mar 16
Kotor is a medieval town located in a secluded corner of the stunning Bay of Kotor. It’s the most popular place to visit in all of Montenegro for a good reason. Once you step foot inside the old town, it’s hard to resist its charm. Kotor is the best-preserved old town in Montenegro with lots of influences from the Venetian empire, which ruled here for nearly 400 years. It’s also surrounded by breathtaking natural scenery, consisting of limestone cliffs and crystal clear water. In this article, we’ll break down the most important things to know before you go, the best places to stay, the best restaurants and bars, and the 10 best things to do in and around Kotor that will keep you busy for at least 2 to 3 days.
Check out our video on Kotor to see the best things to do through our camera!
Table Of Contents
Important Things To Know
Best time to travel to Kotor
The best time to visit Kotor is from May to October. Though the summer months are hot and more crowded.
Cost and currency
Kotor is one of the most expensive places in Montenegro but still an affordable travel destination compared to other European destinations. Keep in mind that the restaurants are generally not cheap. So if you're looking to save as much money as possible while traveling the country, consider buying food from grocery stores and cooking your own meals. Accommodations and activities are more affordable.
Safety in Kotor
Kotor is a safe travel destination. You do need to watch out for pickpocketers just as in every popular travel destination.
Where To Stay In Kotor
Casa del Sole Lux: This is where we stayed. The host is lovely and we had a fully-equipped kitchen. But it's a bit outside the town center so only book this place if you have a rental car.
Katareo Apartments: cozy apartments in the old town, the perfect location!
Where To Eat And Drink
La Catedral Pasta Bar: delicious Italian pastas at a good price
Old Winery Wine Bar: best for wine tastings
BBQ Tanjga: great budget option with tasty food
Best Things To Do In Kotor
If you're traveling to Kotor and want to save time searching for directions to all of the places we mention in this article, then look no further than our custom map. Simply click on a point in the map below to get directions there for yourself!
Let's now jump into the 10 best things to do in Kotor!
10. Explore the old town (stari grad)
Your visit to Kotor will most likely begin in the Old Town, or Stari Grad, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, you can wander the maze of narrow streets and simply enjoy the architecture. Built between the 12th and 14th centuries, this old town has a lot of character. From its decorated gates, to its orthodox and catholic churches, cozy squares, and Venetian palaces, every corner holds a story. The best way to learn about Kotor’s fascinating history is by going on a guided tour.
9. Walk the city walls
After exploring the old town of Kotor, it’s time to climb up the city walls that encircle it. Covering about 4.5 kilometers or 3 miles, these thick walls were built to protect the town, which was an important naval and trading center. Today, the walls are crumbling in some sections and it isn’t possible to walk all the way around the Old Town like in the nearby old town of Dubrovnik. But there are still several parts that you can easily access, such as the South Gate (Gurdić Bastion) and the Kampana Tower. In fact, the walls that front the bay are fairly wide, flat, and straightforward.
8. Visit a museum
The old town of Kotor is home to a few interesting museums, such as the Cats Museum and the Maritime Museum. We visited the latter one, which celebrates the naval history of Kotor with a collection of photographs, paintings, uniforms, decorated weapons and models of ships. The museum is housed in a wonderful old palace, adding to the intrigue. The entrance fee when we were there was only 4 Euros, which included an audio guide.
7. Watch the sunset from the fortress
Above Kotor’s city walls, you can find old St. John’s fortress (also named Castle of Giovanni). It’s about 280 meters or 918 feet above the town and you’ll have to walk 1,350 steps to get there. And while the castle ramparts itself are interesting, it’s the panoramic view of the Bay of Kotor that makes this hike truly rewarding. The best time to visit is in the early morning or an hour or two before sunset as it’s generally a bit cooler and the light is best for pictures. Find the trail entrance behind the Church of St. Mary Collegiate.
6. Cool down at Kotor beach
On a hot summer day, there’s no better place to cool down than the beach. Kotor doesn’t have any long beaches, but small ones are scattered around the bay. The closest one is Kotor Beach, which can be found right outside the old town. But keep in mind that there are many cruise ships and boats sailing around here so the water could be a bit polluted! Alternatively, head to Orahovac or Bajova Kula beach on the way to Perast.
5. Try Montenegrin wine
Kotor’s old town is filled with a variety of charming restaurants and bars where you can sample the local cuisine and wine. Some bars offer wine tastings where you can try indigenous Vranac wine, which is made of a black-skinned variety of grapes that are native to mountainous Montenegro. These wines are dense and produce a deep-colored red wine. We recommend the Old Winery Wine Bar near the entrance to the fort.
4. Explore nearby Perast
The Bay of Kotor is dotted with picturesque villages, but nearby Perast might be the most charming one. Located only a 20-minute drive from Kotor, this tiny town is home to Venetian-era palaces, churches, and squares. It’s a joy to just walk the main street along the waterfront and admire the beautiful architecture here. You only need a few hours to take in the romantic atmosphere. But allow a half day if you’re planning to go on a boat tour to the nearby islands (Our Lady of the Rocks & St. George Island). Check out our Montenegro video to find more interesting places to visit in the Bay of Kotor and around the entire country.
3. Go on a boat tour
One of our favorite things to do in Kotor was going on a boat tour to the most beautiful and unique sights in the Bay. During a 3-hour tour you visit the church on the man-made island of Our Lady of the Rocks, pass through a cave where submarines used to be hidden, spot the old prison on Mamula Island, and swim in the magical Blue Cave. Boat tours leave from the harbor near the old town multiple times per day.
2. Hike the Ladder of Kotor
Surrounded by steep mountains, Kotor is an incredible destination for outdoor and adventure lovers! The Ladder of Kotor is an old caravan trail that used to connect Kotor with the old capital of Montenegro (Cetinje). The switchback trail offers some breathtaking views of the Bay of Kotor. And unlike St. John’s fort, you don’t have to pay an entrance fee to hike this route. The distance to the top is 6.5 kilometers or 4 miles one-way with 940 meters or 3,084 feet of elevation gain. But the beauty of this hike is the fact that you don’t need to hike all the way to the summit to enjoy spectacular views.
The trailhead can be found to the west of the old town next to the Skurda River. The Google coordinates for the trailhead are: 42.427211, 18.773356
We ended at a small platform about 2.4 kilometers or 1.5 miles up the trail, which offered amazing views of St. John’s Fort and the Bay.
You can keep going to the top, there’s a road and a restaurant (Nevjesta Jadrana restaurant) you will find there.
There is a small chapel (Chapel of St. Ivan) you can visit on the trail
1. Drive the serpentine road to Lovćen National Park
Finally, you can’t leave Kotor without visiting its beautiful national park nearby. From Kotor, it’s a short 45 minute drive to Mt Lovćen National Park via a narrow serpentine road that takes you up to the mountains. Driving this road is a thrilling experience and you can stop at one of the many viewpoints that stretch the entire bay to the Adriatic Sea. When you continue to the entrance of the park, you’ll find an imposing black mountain that gave the country its name: Mt. Lovćen itself. Here, you can find the mausoleum of its greatest ruler (Njegoš).
Use These Websites To Save Money On Your Trip To Kotor
Booking.com for places to stay
Skyscanner for cheap flights
GetYourGuide for local tours
Rentalcars.com for affordable car rentals
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Other Top Kotor resources:
If you're looking for some other suggestions and tips on Kotor, here are some great articles that will help you:
15 Unmissable Things to Do in Kotor (plus 5 day trips!) by Spiritual Travels
12 Wonderful Things to Do in Kotor, Montenegro by Wander-Lush
15 Best Things to Do in Kotor, Montenegro by Our Escape Clause
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